In a bid to increase awareness among Jakarta residents about the importance of sidewalks and walking habits, the city administration organized on Sunday the first Jakarta Pedestrian Festival.
The festival took place along the northern part of Jl. Agus Salim, also known as Jl. Sabang, in Central Jakarta, inviting all sidewalk users to take part in a discussion and other festivities.
“We realized that we are in dire need of proper sidewalks. Through this festival, I hope the authorities, pedestrians and other sidewalk users can share what they have in mind so we can improve the condition of sidewalks,” said Catharina Suryowati, the chief of the Jakarta Park and Cemetery Agency.
A pedestrian who was present at the festival, Iqbal Nugraha, 28, said he wished that one day, the sidewalks would be free from vendors, ojek (motorcycle taxi) drivers and holes in the pavement.
In addition, Iqbal said that proper sidewalks would support the administration’s plan to build an integrated public transportation system to alleviate traffic congestion in Jakarta.
“I expect the administration won’t just stop at this festival, but will do more.”
In addition to discussions, the festival also saw a street-musical gig, dancing performance and a marching band.
Jakarta has few proper, safe sidewalks. Most sidewalks are occupied with ojek and street vendors, with motorcycles often opting to drive on sidewalks during rush hour.
Pedestrians have long been faced with these threats and the public has frequently demanded improvements in sidewalks, especially in the wake of a horrific car crash that killed nine and injured four in Gambir, Central Jakarta, earlier this year.
A group of pedestrian advocates have proposed that Jan. 22 be known as Pedestrians’ Day in remembrance of the incident.
The agency plans to invest up to Rp 10 billion (US$1.11 million) for the renovation of sidewalks on Jl. Gajah Mada, Jl. Hayam Wuruk Jl. Cikini Raya, Jl. Sabang and Jl. M.I. Ridwan Rais – all in Central Jakarta.
In its regional strategic planning for 2007-2012, the Jakarta Development Planning Agency (Bappeda) listed optimizing roads and bridges and pedestrian facilities.
However, the improvements of sidewalks were relegated to a position below residential and arterial road construction, road widening and road extensions. (Jakarta Post)